Posts Tagged ‘shelter’
It’s the end of December and so the next calendar year is almost upon us. For me the new year really begins at Winter Solstice and I am already enjoying the lengthening of the winter days. We are having a wet and warm Christmas season in Ireland, quite a change from last year’s extreme winter weather and a welcome change for most people I think.
I have to admit I really enjoyed last years cold and bright Christmas and I miss the cheer of the snow, this year didn’t feel as festive to me and I have to also admit that I am becoming very tired of the mud that the almost constant rain has brought around my door.
Despite the unseasonal warmth (warmest Irish Christmas on record apparently) we still need to keep our fire lit. I have spent the last hour in the timeless chore of cutting kindling, emptying the ashes from our small stove and laying down the fire-start, I am sure every stove owner has their own way of setting the fire-start depending on what fuel they burn. We burn a mixture of peat briquettes and our own white-thorn wood, cut from the overgrown hedge earlier in the year. My partner and I even have our own ways of setting the briquettes, kindling and paper to start the fire and each is equally successful.
Some days my favourite part of starting the fire is cutting the kindling. At the moment we have a few wood-piles lying between the sitting room and the kitchen in our new house. We have a pile of saw-mill cut timber there which we have used for framing the walls, this pile is dwindling as we run out of wall framing timber (because happily it is in the walls) and the pile of cut-offs has grown. Some of the cut-offs will still be used in various jobs about the house however some pieces are destined to become kindling.
Every few days on of us goes out and picks a piece of wood that looks unsuitable for anything but kindling and we chop it up with our small axe. The chopping block is currently in the bathroom, incidentally that’s also where this year’s Christmas tree is. Doesn’t everyone keep their Christmas tree in the bathroom? Perhaps not. Our tree actually consists of a few Pine boughs that I cut the day before Christmas Eve and tied in a decorative fashion to a framing timber on the wall. I then decorated these with our small stash of Christmas decorations, I couldn’t find the stored box of decorations from last year so it was a bit improvised, none the less it is very pretty.
So the bathroom is very central to our activities this Christmas. The chopping block is a 2foot length of wood, 9x3inches, a cut-off of a roof beam. I enjoy chopping kindling. You really need to focus as your fingers are never far from the axe blade when you make that first incision that grips the piece of wood before you proceed to split it by hammering both the wood and the axe together down on the chopping block. It’s a very satisfying job, mark, split, gather the pieces into a basket.
Ever since axes have been used people have performed this task of making kindling for the fire. Perhaps it is the time of year that made me think of the generations of people, across the world, that tend to the cooking or winter fires, to warm and feed their families. Gathering and cutting firewood in some places or cutting turf, drying it and bringing it home as generations of Irish people have done over the centuries. Storing the winter fuel to keep it dry, ensuring it is not too far from the door especially in snowy or wet winters. For some people now the fire is no longer a necessity, whether or not it is essential the hearth has still a special place in many homes.
Now at the turn of the year I wish you
the warmth of a brightly burning fire
as these lengthening winter days pass.
I wish for you health and contentment in the coming year.
It’s amazing, we have just had 3 full days of sunshine! We are not talking about just a bit of clear sky every now and then, we are talking about three whole, entire days of sunshine, from sunrise to sundown.
A German friend noted on Saturday, our first sunny day, that we had only had three sunny days in the past sixty days. My German acquaintance tends to make notes like this, as does my Swiss neighbour. They both tend to be mathematical about the weather, percentage of humidity, inches of rainfall – actually make that feet of rainfall, days of sunshine.
Some friends and I were chatting about this phenomenon of being so analytical about the weather and concluded that Irish people don’t have these tendacies because it would be too depressing to know exactly how much rain had fallen last week or that we have had only three whole days of sunshine in sixty days.
It’s much easier to cope when you know that it’s “been awhile since there was a good sunny day” or “there’s been a fierce amount of rain recently” as opposed to the cruel, hard, cold and wet facts.
So, back to the happy, happy fact that we have had multiple, complete days of sunshine. The ground is beginning to dry out, the mud outside our door has dried up. There are wasps flying about, presumably making the most of the last few flowers.
We have been working on the house again, for a while there it was too wet to be climbing up on the scaffolding to do outside work. We kept ourselves busy tidying up the inside of the house, moving the cedar wood indoors to keep it dry, painting the windows that have yet to be installed.
Now, for the last few days we have working outdoors again. We used the cedar to clad another wall, bringing us around to the south facing front of the house. We are about halfway to having the entire house clad and weatherproof.
It’s been so good to be working on the outside of the house again, even better has been working in a tee-shirt. It’s still a little chilly in the morning however it’s not long until the sweatshirt comes off – yahoo! Soooo nice to feel the warmth of sunshine.
Sundown, however, comes on quickly. The temperature drops so suddenly that it’s a rush to pull on sweatshirts and woolly hats, put the tools away and get indoors to light the fire. I laughed today when I thought about the silly old Vampire movie I saw over Halloween – the townspeople were rushing to get indoors when the sun went down, to avoid being Vampire supper.
We displayed the same urgency for different reasons, bright sunny, cloudless days lead to clear skies and cold nights. It’s time to be back indoors, enjoying the heat of the stove.
It can be difficult to make choices sometimes.
There are times when I really want to do two things and I simply can’t, then it comes down to setting priorities. I need to decide which choice to make based on what is important right now rather than what I would really rather do. Sometimes I need to decide what it is that I really need to do.
I have some strong spiritual interests/practises and for some of these practises I have Teachers. My spiritual interests are not church based at all, despite having being raised in a church going family. In fact, like many Irish people of my generation, I have no interest whatsoever in church or it’s dogma however I fully respect the choices of anyone who does.
My spiritual interests are more nature based, spirit based, a little like a “Pick ‘n’ Mix”. I do believe in the power of prayer, I meditate when I am disciplined enough, I ask for help from various sources, I give gratitude for what I have received in my life, I try to live in the moment and to practise self-awareness. I am a strong believer in the power of letting your light shine so that others may be encouraged to do the same.
Recently the opportunity has arisen to attend a workshop being presented by both my teacher and his teacher. This is a wonderful opportunity as the man is held in very high regard and it is the last time that he will travel to Ireland to give one of his five day workshops.
My teacher has gone out of his way to make this workshop available and affordable for me for which I am very grateful and I did think that I would be able to take the time needed.
However I really need to be at home to help put a roof on our house. The house building has already been postponed for a few weeks to allow us both to earn some money and we are ready now to get back to building work.
The winter is coming, Equinox has passed and the nights are getting colder, we have even lit a fire in the last three evenings. We really need to put a roof on the house before the weather deteriorates any further.
The wall frames are already in place so in order to be prepared for winter we need to put on the roof first, then weather-proof the walls. Half of the rafters are in place and we are now getting ready to put up the other half, put a roof decking in place, put on the vapour barrier, battens and the roofing material which in our case is corrugated tin.
I am grateful that we have all the materials that we need to do this next bit of work and we even have offers of help from two good friends, one of whom has experience in roofing his own house.
Does anyone want to volunteer to make soup and sandwiches for us? I think we will have a few days of one-pot dinners cooking away on the stove whilst we are outside hammering away.
Now, I just need to remember to pray for a dry spell of weather….
I know that I have mentioned a few times that we are building a home for ourselves. Usually in Ireland when someone self-builds it either means hiring a contractor to organise the job and supply all the labour or hiring all the builders, carpenters, roofers etc yourself.
Well, we don’t usually do things the “normal” way and building our home is no different! We are doing it by ourselves, with a little help from our friends. We also have not taken the mortgage route, preferring to save the money and buy or salvage materials as we go along. Of course this does mean that we are moving slowly and the build is taking some time.
Right now we want to get the roof on and that is what we have been concentrating on this summer. We have put up most of the wall framing posts and the ridgeboard for the roof. We are using purlins which are like ridgeborads and do basically the same work – they help to hold up the rafters. The purlins run parallel to the ridgeboard, either side of the ridge equidistant from the outside walls and the ridge and they act to cut the rafter span in half.
Currently we are putting up the northern purlins and rafters. We have five rafters up and are hoping to get a few more up today. The building space is beginning to feel like a house now. For the last year we have had the floor platform up and covered with the floorboards. We have sometimes used the space as a platform for gathering with friends to drum, I have often brought up a garden chair and sat there with a coffee and a book.
Now that we have most of the wall frames up and we are putting up rafters we can feel the shape of the rooms and it is all becoming a little bit more real. It is great to look up now and really see where the roof is going. There are ways in which the slowness of the build is frustrating and there are ways in which the slowness is an advantage.
We are getting to really feel our home become real and we have the time to change wee things as we go along, make adjustments, see where the evening sun shines in, where the summer breezes come from. We will really appreciate it when the house is finished enough for us to move in – everyone says don’t move in until it is finished however our current home is becoming way too small and cluttered and is getting ready to fall apart – it was old when we bought it and really shouldn’t even have lasted as long as it has! We have been reluctant to put any time or money into repairing it as we really need to be concentrating on our new home so I think that as soon as we can we will be moving into the new house.
I am getting a bit ahead of myself though, the moving time is quite some while away yet, today we need to concentrate on getting a few more rafters up…
I thought that it was worth posting this information on behalf of a group called CUBE (Campaign to Use Buildings that are Empty)
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Carbery Housing Association was set up ten years ago by local West Cork residents, who could see that local people and new arrivals were unable to find affordable housing to rent in West Cork. As a result they were obliged to emigrate, or to live in unacceptable conditions, dependent on state Rent Allowance. Because of this CHA has made several attempts to progress sustainable housing projects, notably in Bantry (Kinaith-Fineen and Slip) but on all occasions our proposals have been rejected by Cork County and Town Councils.
Today the housing situation nationally is in shambles. A recent University College of Dublin study has found that there are around 345,000 empty homes in Ireland that are standing empty and unused. Some are in need of repair, but the majority would be immediately habitable. At the same time Local Authority housing lists have grown to over 80,000 households.
In view of this, CHA has decided to concentrate on trying to bring empty properties into use. The Government has recently introduced a new scheme to lease private empty properties, where the DEHLG will pay up to 80% of the market rent to the property owner, on the basis of a 10 to2 0 year lease. The tenant pays the equivalent of a Council rent, to cover the management and maintenance of the property.
CHA is now actively looking for privately-owned properties that can be used under this Scheme. So far we are following up the use of 2 properties in West Cork, but we aim to secure many more properties for rent to persons on our housing list in the coming months.
We would like to invite you to join CHA. We need your help to keep looking for homes, and to help raise funds. We currently receive no grants of any kind. We need to carry out surveys of properties we are offered, we need to carry out essential repairs, we need to administer and publicise the Scheme. We want to get as many property owners as possible to understand that letting their houses to us for use by people who cannot afford to buy or rent is a win-win situation.
We are also currently looking for Volunteers, who can help out for one day in the forthcoming West Cork Music Festival, to be held in Skibbereen on July 31st. We need Volunteers to act as Stewards on the day, and for each Volunteer, the Festival organisers will contribute € 100 to CHA for every Steward found.
If you are willing to help out in this, or in helping to identify empty houses and their owners, then please contact me, on 028 21890 or 086 8224429, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org